Hurrah! The summer transfer window is closed and Newcastle United have reclaimed their spot amongst Europe’s highest spenders, sitting proudly amongst the illustrious elite of ambitious clubs who regularly challenge for trophies on the back of expensively assembled squads of star players.
The owner told us all, live on television, about his horse and cart theory and even the most ardent anti owner-campaigner can’t say that we have pursued the donkeys of seasons gone by.
These are the headlines, and they are true, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Way back at the end of last season, a whole 14 weeks ago, we all knew that the club was in trouble and could not carry on another season as it was, without relegation being virtually assured.
Major changes were required and so we changed the coach and his staff, we changed the board set up, we released players and signed new ones for big money.
Again, these are the headlines but not the story. Indeed it was all change and on the surface of things it was exactly what every man and his dog said was required, a top to bottom rethink and re-strategize, but was it done correctly and what motivated it?
After the horror show that was last season, many fans had their say on what was required on the field, opinions ranging from an entire new defence to the forced removal of 99% of the playing staff.
One position I can’t recall being mentioned as a priority though was attacking midfield, nevertheless Gio Wijnaldum became our first and highest profile summer signing and at the age of 24 with his star rising rapidly, he certainly fits the model employed thus far of ‘buy to sell’. In fact, all the summer signings fit that model.
An outlay of £52m is nothing to be sniffed at, but let’s not pretend that this was a generous windfall from a benevolent owner. It makes me cringe when I read fans saying things like ‘You’ve got to give Mike credit for putting his hand in his pocket’.
Let’s get it straight that the only pocket his hand went into belongs to Rupert Murdoch (and Mr BT) who contribute much of the TV contract money, of which we still had surplus in the accounts from previous years.
This activity in the summer transfer window was not generosity, it was the same gamble as previous seasons but on a larger scale and using someone else’s money, more ‘speculate to accumulate’ purchases under the guise of genuine concern for the future of the club.
If you think I am wrong, being negative, or sceptical about my motivations, then ask yourself a couple of questions.
If there was genuine concern about improving the back line then why sign only Mbemba to the second worst defence in the Premier League? Ron Vlaar was and is still free, an experienced PL defender.
If there was genuine motivation to challenge for trophies then why employ a coach whose most recent work has been to fail at two lower league clubs? Was it to save money, was it to employ another Pardewesque patsy?
What happened last (this?) Summer was the illusion of caring, the illusion of change, smoke and mirrors designed to distract people from the fact that the good ship Ashley has steadfastly refused to change course, instead he has just stoked more coal into the boiler.
In theory, the better players bought in should lead to improved performances.
In theory there is no way in hell that Steve McClaren could be anywhere near as incompetent as his predecessor
…and in theory the transfer fees paid for these rising stars would be dwarfed by the money which could be recouped if they succeed.
What is missing is what has always been missing, a genuine structure and succession plan to move the club forwards.
Replace Mitrovic with Austin and bring in a player like Vlaar and all of a sudden the team would look much more solid but less profitable in terms of future fees, this is the issue which will always prevent the club from any sort of success whilst it is run by a miserly shopkeeper who makes Arkwright look like Bill Gates.
What we did last/this summer was to change nowhere near as much as they pretended to, the basic model remains the same but some fans are fooled into thinking that Uncle Mike has seen the error of his ways.
The only error he has rectified is to not be quite so blatant about his profiteering.
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